Directed by George Roy Hill. 104 mins.
Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on DVD)
A nutty, nearly-great piece of New Hollywood. I somehow made it through fours years of UC Berkeley without reading Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, so I went in blind.
SPOILER ALERT: The eponymous slaughterhouse doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.
The biggest draw is editor Dede Allen’s seamless transitions between moments in the life of Billy Pilgrim (Michael Sacks), a World War II veteran who spontaneously “time-trips” between his childhood, his death, and into eternity. Sacks’ performance isn’t all that compelling (there’s a reason the dude quit acting and now works on Wall Street), but Pilgrim’s life has lots of great moments – which is pretty much all that makes life worth living. Hill (and Vonnegut, I suppose), beautifully illustrate humanity’s tendency to progressively envelope itself in memories and fantasies as it ages.
I’d love to watch a Slaughterhouse Five / Johnny Got His Gun double-feature since both of them deal with dissociative veterans. Also, the overlapping timelines and juxtaposition of similar events demonstrate that The Fountain, Cloud Atlas (I wish that film was half as good as its trailer), and a gazillion other movies owe a debt to Slaughterhouse Five.
(Seen and originally written on 2013-07-09)